The Top 13 Online WordPress Tutorials for Plugin Development — Freemius

WordPress is an ever-evolving beast, and whether you’re new to the platform or an experienced product maker, there’s always a new advancement to wrap your head around.

Thankfully, there are several online WordPress plugin development tutorials to make the learning process easier. Trouble is, there are so many of them, making it difficult to choose the course(s) that are worth your time and the enrollment fee (if there is one).

A Methodical Approach to Learning WordPress Plugin Development

WordPress’s open-source nature makes it easy to get started, but if you wish to explore the platform’s more complex avenues — such as Gutenberg blocks or JS-based plugin development — it’s better to invest your time in a structured course, from reputable a source, rather than relying on Google’s search results.

Yes, ‘learning by doing’ will always play a critical role in a WordPress developer’s growth, but committing to a structured, step-by-step approach from the outset can build a solid foundation of knowledge that’ll make your progression easier.

The chosen WordPress plugin development tutorials are based on the following criteria: quality and depth of content, topics covered, the skill level required (beginner to intermediate to expert), price, update frequency, and the reputation of the course trainer(s) involved.

New to the WordPress game? You’ll find several thorough courses to give you a firm grasp on basics like WordPress coding standards and GPL licensing, which are essential to any developer’s toolkit as they help us understand the complexities involved with product development, release, and growth.

Intermediate and expert developers who want to enhance their skill sets can dive into a tutorial for Gutenberg blocks-based development and browse the deep, advanced catalog of WordPress.tv.

Basics to know beforehand:

  1. Learn HTML5 Programming From Scratch
  2. CSS — The Complete Guide 2021
  3. The Complete PHP MySQL Professional Course With 5 Projects
  4. Introduction to JavaScript

WordPress plugin development tutorials:

  1. WordPress: Plugin Development
  2. WordPress Plugin Developer Handbook
  3. Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development
  4. Plugins for Beginners
  5. WordPress Plugin Development
  6. WordPress.tv
  7. Gutenberg Blocks for WordPress and React Developers
  8. Selling Plugins
  9. WordPress Careers Masterclass

Brushing Up on the Basics: Our Recommended Courses for Beginners

Before you launch yourself wholeheartedly into the world of plugin development, I recommend brushing up on the basic languages of web development. Be it HTML, CSS, PHP, or even JavaScript, having a working knowledge of these languages will stand you in good stead for what’s to come (and there’s a lot to come in terms of complexity!).

So, if you don’t know your PHP MySQL from your HTML, or if you feel that some fine-tuning is needed to hone your existing skills, the following four beginner courses are good jumping-off points:

With nearly 320K students, this tutorial is one of the most popular courses on Udemy, covering the key topics of beginner-level development, including:

  • HTML basics
  • CSS basics
  • Flexbox, CSS animations, and position
  • Forms, framework, and CSS grid
  • Git and an introduction to JavaScript
  • HTML and HTML5 advanced features

At the end of the course, you’ll be asked to create a project in HTML5 to test your knowledge and put your learnings into practice.

About the Course:

Check it out here: Learn HTML5 Programming From Scratch

Got the basics of HTML and web development down? This course will help you build on that existing knowledge and expand your toolkit with the basics and advanced concepts of CSS.

  • Last Updated: November 2019
  • Content Format: Videos, Articles, and Downloadable Resources

Divided into three tracks, you’ll start with the fundamentals: what CSS is, how it works, and how to use it, before moving on to the theory behind the language and its more complex features. For example, the Expert track goes deep into Flexbox, CSS Grid, CSS Variables, and Sass.

In addition to multiple assignments, quizzes, and challenges, the course project will see you building the frontend of a fictional web hosting company using animated side-drawer, forms, modals, font styles, and CSS animations.

About the Course:

Check it out here: CSS — The Complete Guide 2021

  • Price: $13.99
  • Skill Level: CSS Beginner
  • Last Updated: May 2021
  • Content Format: Video, Articles, and Downloadable Resources

With over 20 hours of on-demand video, the course explores the full spectrum of PHP, from the fundamentals to topics like PHP Sessions and the PDO layer for database operations. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Beginning with the building blocks of PHP — where you’ll explore XAMPP, PHP editors, variables, constants, strings, numbers, and arrays — the course moves on to IF statements, types of loops, branching, as well as static, local, and global variables. It also covers:

  • regular expressions
  • form validation
  • sending emails in PHP
  • creating dynamic web pages
  • powerful superglobal variables (cookie, setting a cookie, session, server).

The tutorial concludes with lessons on how to create an employee management CRUD application and working with Bootstrap 4.2.1 (which is one of the leading front-end frameworks and open source projects right now).

About the Course:

Check it out here: The Complete PHP MySQL Professional Course With 5 Projects

  • Price: $13.99
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Last Updated: March 2021
  • Content Format: Video, Articles, and Downloadable Resources

Because of this, it’s a good idea to add the foundational JavaScript language to your arsenal of web development skills. JavaScript is also a worthy accompaniment to HTML/CSS and can help you create highly functional dynamic web pages with excellent UX.

This comprehensive tutorial is available for free on Codecademy, but to get your hands on a certificate of completion you’ll need to register for the Pro plan.

What I like about Codecademy is that you don’t learn passively. Instead, you’ll be coding from Day One using their intuitive code editor interface in parallel with the educational process. Remember I mentioned ‘learning by doing’ earlier in this piece? Well, this course is a great example of that!

Speaking of learning, Introduction to JavaScript covers much of what you need to know about the language, including the ‘programming fundamentals and basic object-oriented concepts using the latest JavaScript syntax’. The course explores:

About the Course:

Check it out here: Introduction to JavaScript

  • Price: Free / $19.99 per month for the Pro plan
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Last Updated: Regularly updated
  • Content Format: Video

With the web basics fresh in your mind and your ‘development’ hands itching to get coding, it’s time to dive into the world of WordPress plugin development.

  • Setting up a development environment
  • WordPress APIs
  • Working with custom post types
  • JavaScript and CSS
  • Transients and HTTP APIs
  • WP-Cron and implementing Ajax
  • Securing plugins by adjusting roles and permissions
  • Developing with Gutenberg

To access this WordPress plugin development tutorial, you’ll need a LinkedIn Learning membership, which costs $19/month for the yearly subscription and $29 for the monthly subscription. It’s also worth mentioning that LinkedIn Learning membership grants you access to all of the courses on the platform.

About the Course:

Check it out here: WordPress: Plugin Development

  • Price: LinkedIn Learning subscription, starting at $19/month
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Last Updated: August 2019
  • Content Format: Videos

From plugin header requirements and security best practices to working with custom taxonomies and internationalization, this WordPress tutorial has something of value to offer developers of all levels. And, while you won’t be awarded a certificate of completion to stick on your LinkedIn profile, you will be equipped with vital information that’s maintained and regularly updated by a team of volunteers who are devoted to the WordPress project.

About the Course:

Check it out here: WordPress Plugin Developer Handbook

  • Price: Free
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Last Updated: Regularly updated
  • Content Format: Text

At the end of the course, your learnings will be put to the test with a project to create a widget plugin. This practical task involves registering the post type and taxonomy as well as running a query for the widget.

Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development contains 15 lessons and is approximately 1.6 hours, so you’ll be able to get a good handle on the basics fairly quickly. I also recommend exploring the other plugin development-related courses on Envato Tuts+, though some of them do require a subscription to Envato Elements which costs around $16.50 per month.

About the Course:

Check it out here: Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development

  • Price: Free for this course / $16.50 per month for other paid courses on Tuts+
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Last Updated: 28 May 2020
  • Content Format: Videos

That said, if you have a good understanding of coding and code logic, this course houses crucial information to expand your development toolkit and technical knowledge.

Divided into 23 lessons, the course takes you through both essential and advanced areas of plugin development, such as:

  • Installing a development environment on your machine to work on your plugin
  • The basics of PHP (the language WordPress is built with)
  • The building blocks of WordPress functionality (actions and filters)
  • How to build a settings page for your plugin
  • Tracking changes to your plugin code using Git version control
  • Getting your plugin ready for translation into other languages

You can sign up for the course with a one-time fee of $47 — if any additional chapters or lessons are made available in the future, you’ll get access to those as well.

About the Course:

Check it out here: Plugins For Beginners

  • Price: $47
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Last Updated: N/A
  • Content Format: Videos and Text

The course playlist is available for free on YouTube and spread across 60+ videos. It’s a real treasure trove for those who want to get (digitally) hands-on with some of WordPress plugin development’s vital subtopics, including:

You’ll also learn about creating some useful plugins/widgets, like:

Although the initial video was uploaded in mid-2017, the structure of the course makes it easy for viewers to scroll to a tutorial that syncs with their learning needs.

Check it out here: WordPress Plugin Development

About the Course:

In addition to his WordPress Plugin Development course, Alessandro has also published Create Custom Gutenberg Blocks — an 18-video series that explores how to build custom Gutenberg blocks.

  • Price: Free
  • Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Last Updated: Jan 5, 2019
  • Content Format: Videos

Spoiler alert: it’s high!

That said, some of the topics here are pretty advanced, so if you’re unfamiliar with the basics I’d recommend you go through a structured course before embarking on your WordPress.tv journey.

And — if you consume everything — it’ll be a pretty long one. From OOP plugin development basics to the best strategies, there are 60+ videos on plugin development alone!

If you are a beginner, I advise starting with these:

Watch the videos here: WordPress.tv: Plugin Development

For niche-specific, advanced development talks, check these out:

About the Resource:

Once you’ve got a good handle on the basics through to advanced concepts of WordPress development, you can tackle some of the more detailed, niche courses.

Interested in blocks-based development? Delve into WordPress’s MVP of the moment: Gutenberg.

Check it out here: Gutenberg Blocks for WordPress and React Developers

As Gutenberg is still fairly new and growing, this is a golden opportunity to learn the editor’s intricacies and potentially build a profitable WordPress block-based plugin business.

But first things first! You’ll need to equip yourself with the skills, and this course — with 120 lectures and over 11 hours of content — is an excellent place to start building your block-based expertise.

About the Course:

Let’s shift away from the science of coding and shine the spotlight on a different (yet no less important) discipline. Namely, the ‘commercial science’ behind launching and selling plugins to create a profitable WordPress business.

In approximately four hours and informed by Brian Hogg’s personal trial-and-error experiences, Selling Plugins takes you through launching, licensing, selling, maintaining, and marketing your product to grow your business.

In 41 videos, you’ll learn how to:

Check it out here: Selling Plugins

  • create and solidify your plugin idea
  • prepare and launch the premium/paid version
  • set up software licensing and automatic updates
  • launch and host the free version on WordPress.org
  • maintain and release new plugin updates
  • get more paying customers through marketing
  • handle the plugin support load

For the Launch package, $147.75 gets you access to all videos, discounts, bonus interviews, and unlimited future course updates. You can also opt for the Master package, which costs $222.75. For this price, you get everything in the Launch package plus access to a private Slack room and the code for Brian’s three pro plugins.

If you want to engage with Brian face-to-face, go for the Coaching package ($747.75). It has everything in the Master package plus a one-on-one call with Brian to review your plugin and launch strategy, along with 30-days of direct email support to assist you with the launch.

About the Course:

If you aspire to carve out a lucrative career in plugin development, then being a proficient developer is one side of the coding coin. The other is monetization and having the business acumen to sell your code and services for a fair yet profitable price.

Check it out here: WordPress Careers Masterclass

So, while this course won’t help you become more adept at coding and web development, it will help you pay the bills. 😉

In six parts, ‘you’ll learn about the wide range of WordPress career options available to you. Developer Rachel McCollin will help you identify your career goals and provide information, tips and advice to help you formulate your own career plan and follow it through. By the end of the course, you’ll have clear goals and know which path you need to take to forge a successful career with WordPress’. While not plugin-specific, the information contained in WordPress Careers Masterclass is valuable and relevant to anybody who wants to turn their coding talents into something more than a hobby.

The course requires a WPMU DEV membership to access it.

About the Course:

Free or Paid: Which Course to Go for?

You can’t put a price tag on personal and professional development, but you should be ready to invest some of your hard-earned cash in a course that other developers swear by.

Many paid courses trump their free counterparts with added benefits like private Q&A sessions with the facilitator or course creator, industry accreditation, a higher standard of learning, and access to expert trainers and support staff for mentoring.

That said, WordPress is a community-driven project that has nurtured a supportive environment where everyone sees contribution as a crucial part of their journey. This mentality means there are a variety of free, high-quality courses that offer a ton of insight, guidance, and experience from the expert developers who created them. More so than other development communities, the leaders in the space see this exchange of knowledge as part of their contribution to the WordPress project’s growth.

In this article, I’ve covered the cream of the crop for both free and paid courses. I’ve curated it this way so that you can be assured of a high level of quality, regardless of whether you’re willing to pay or just want to see if plugin development is what you want to do before committing financially.

Why WordPress and Why Now?

WordPress powers more than 41% of the web and holds almost 65% of the total CMS market share. The fact that you’ll be creating products with the potential to reach millions of users makes the effort to educate yourself about plugin development all the more worth it.

Likewise, advancements like the block-based Gutenberg editor have opened up a new spectrum of possibilities to reach different audiences with WordPress plugins. Every day sees more plugins and Gutenberg blocks submitted to the WordPress repository as the user base grows — even during the peak months of February and March in 2020 (when COVID-19 hit the world economy), there was a 19.8% growth in plugin downloads!

The community is unparalleled in terms of support and guidance, which is one of the primary reasons that WordPress continues to succeed at technological progression and platform expansion.

Keeping Up With the Industry

Whether you’re ready to venture into the world of WordPress with your first plugin or want to further establish yourself in the industry, it’s critical to keep up-to-date with the latest news and trends in the space. Getting to know the products, the people behind them, and the popular (and up-and-coming) companies will give you a good grasp of where the space is and where it’s going.

Create an online presence to represent your brand on channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to connect with like-minded individuals. Also, if you’re serious about building a network, I recommend getting fully behind the WordPress project to start contributing. It will help you understand how things work behind the scenes and introduce you to people who are trailblazing the way forward in the ecosystem. Not to mention, you’ll also be making the web a better place for everyone by volunteering your skills and talents 🙂

How Can You Contribute to WordPress?

Since you’re interested in plugin development, I’d recommend starting with Core, the primary team that develops and maintains WordPress. If you’re still getting to grips with HTML, CSS, PHP, and JS, you can start by creating a ticket in the bug tracker, solving tickets that are marked as good first bugs, or joining a bug scrub. There’s also a Core Slack channel that you can join to see how things work behind the scenes.

Bonus: 100+ Videos Covering Core Strategies, Techniques, and Practices for a Successful WP Plugin Business

To create a profitable business with WordPress plugins, you’ll be doing more than just coding — you’ll need to wear many hats and become adept at marketing, customer support, design, UX, etc. For actionable advice and guidance on these supplementary skill sets, check out and subscribe to the Freemius YouTube channel. From selling subscriptions and boosting sales with free trials to the dos and don’ts of renewals discounts, it covers everything you need to know to launch, run, and grow a profitable WordPress plugin business.

If a concise checklist that maps out each milestone is more up your alley, check out our Cheat Sheet eBook for Selling WordPress Plugins and Themes.

Originally published at https://freemius.com on August 18, 2021.

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Freemius

Monetization & Insights platform for #WordPress #plugin #developers.

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